Sapphire marina parking restricted as part of dispute


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ST. THOMAS - More public parking areas were shut down at Sapphire Beach Resort and Marina last week, although in the days since some of it has been restored.

Tuesday, the public parking lot in front of the marina was blocked off by property owner Dean Morehouse.

Morehouse owns the property where the parking lots are located, but he does not own the marina itself or the condominium buildings at the resort.

Charter companies who operate day sails and fishing charters out of the marina were worried the move would hurt their businesses.

By Thursday, a small section of parking at the marina was reopened to the public.

Morehouse and the condo association have been fighting for years in court over property issues.

The attorney representing the condo association, Jim Derr, has filed a complaint with V.I. Department of Planning and Natural Resources Coastal Zone Management.

Morehouse is restricting public beach access by closing off the parking lots, according to Derr.

The condo association has also filed a complaint with DPNR over zoning, stating that the number of parking spaces provided are not adequate under the resort's zoning regulations.

In addition, the association has filed a complaint in V.I. Superior Court seeking a restraining order and injunctive relief to prevent further restrictions to parking and other property disputes over lighting and use of the pool deck.

Beachside Associates bought the mortgage on the property for about $1.8 million in 2003, according Derr.

The property - everything but the condo units and marina - was owned by a company called Bayside Resort.

In July 2005, Bayside Resort abandoned the property, which included the Seagrape building that housed the public bathrooms, a restaurant, main lobby and bar.

In 2011, a foreclosure action was filed in V.I. Superior Court and at a court auction held in December, Morehouse obtained ownership of the property, Derr said.

The judge has not yet confirmed the sale, according to Derr.

Parts of the Seagrape building were boarded up several years ago, and the rest was shuttered in January. Access to the taxi drop-off area and the public beach parking lot also was blocked in January.

Beachside and the condo association are locked in several legal battles.

Neither Morehouse or his attorney, Neil Goldman, could be reached for comment by press time.

- Contact reporter Aldeth Lewin at 714-9111 or email alewin@dailynews.vi.

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